Smart Replacement Remotes for Windows Media Center

Logitech Harmony 1000

Most of the remote controls in the Logitech Harmony line of products look like standard remote controls but the Harmony 1000 is a sleek touch screen device with a colourful 3.5" screen and only a handful of physical buttons on the brushed metal surround. Again this is something you’d be happy to leave on your coffee table sitting in its charging cradle, although despite the guides on the back it’s possible to put it in the cradle without the connectors making contact. The 1000 wakes up automatically as soon as you pick it up. Fortunately, knocking the table or putting something heavy down isn’t enough to jog it on.

You can’t use the Harmony 1000 as a mouse to control a standard PC and it only works with a PC that has an infrared receiver; the optional RF extender works with existing infrared devices. This makes the 1000 a very good replacement control for an existing Media Center PC, and it’s ideal for integrating with the rest of your home entertainment system because you can have everything on one remote. The advantage of not working as a mouse is that when you pick up the Harmony it doesn’t make the on-screen controls pop up.

The Logitech Harmony 1000 looks more like a PDA than a remote control and the touch screen makes it colourful as well as flexible - but it can also be complex.

Even if you’re only setting up the 1000 for Media Center, you’ll need to allow some time to get things working; if you’re adding other devices this can take a considerable time because the control has to be updated and rebooted at least once. You need to plug it into a PC and run an online setup tool (because more devices are being added to the 175,000 different models the Harmony 1000 can already control).

You can pick the devices you have and the activities you want to control; if you’re setting up the sequences you need to make multiple devices work together (recording a DVD from a satellite set-top box broadcast, for example) this can be complicated but for a Media Center PC you just need to pick the make and model, wait for the remote to reboot and test it by controlling the Media Center. The test includes turning the Media Center PC on and off but as this means going into standby mode rather than rebooting, you can set the controller up using the PC you’ll be using it with.

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